Palestinians have described the president of the European Commission’s remarks about Israel as “inappropriate, false, and discriminatory.”
It follows Ursula von der Leyen’s video message of congratulations on Israel’s Independence Day on Wednesday.
In it, she praised Israel for having “made the desert bloom”
A spokesperson for the commission told the BBC, “The EU is unpleasantly surprised by the Palestinian foreign ministry’s inappropriate statement accusing the European Commission president of racism.”
“We are requesting clarification from the Palestinian authorities regarding this unacceptable reaction to her video.”
The Palestinian foreign ministry harshly rebuked a Brussels leader with whom it usually gets along.
The PA called Ms. von der Leyen’s suggestion that Israel had cultivated desolate land a “racist trope against Palestinians.”
Israel and its supporters frequently use the phrase “making the desert bloom” to characterize the country’s success in developing the land since the establishment of the modern state in 1948.
Palestinians, however, contend that it erases their history and implies that the land was previously uninhabited or uncultivated.
The PA demands a retraction from the president of the European Commission.
Ms. von der Leyen said Israel’s Independence Day fulfilled an ideal 75 years ago. “After the greatest tragedy in human history, the Jewish people could finally build a home in the promised land.”
“Today, we commemorate seventy-five years of vibrant democracy in the heart of the Middle East, seventy-five years of inventiveness, creativity, and ground-breaking innovations. As I witnessed during my visit to the Negev last year, you have made the desert blossom.
Her video on the @EUinIsrael Twitter account has received over 2,900,000 views.
The Palestinian Authority characterizes the message, which was sent to Israeli President Isaac Herzog, as “propagandist discourse” and part of an “ongoing dispossession” of Palestinians.
The Palestinian Authority asserts that it “dehumanizes and erases the Palestinian people and falsifies their illustrious history and civilization.”
In addition, it asserts that the European statement “whitewashes” Israel’s occupation of lands Palestinians claim for their hoped-for future state and denies what they refer to as “the Nakba” (Arabic for “catastrophe”) of 1948.
Approximately 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their residences during the war that followed Israel’s establishment.
Palestinians observe Nakba Day on May 15 according to the Gregorian calendar. While Israel’s Independence Day is observed according to the Hebrew calendar.
The European Commission is part of the European Union’s executive branch.
The commission spokesperson emphasized the EU’s diplomatic connections with the PA, noting that Ms von der Leyen met with PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh during her June 2022 visit to the region.
Next week, a meeting in Brussels is scheduled to coordinate the delivery of international aid to the Palestinians.
“The EU is actively looking for solutions to the difficult situation of the Palestinian people,” they added.